The best running shirts for men are ones that someone can simply put on and don’t think about again. They prevent chafing, breathe well, and aren’t too hot or cold, so they can be used across various temperatures. The right shirt can lead to better training or race-day performance and put a runner’s mind at ease so they won’t have to deal with unnecessary discomfort during a hard effort.
Finding the best men’s running shirt involves considering different types of material, fit, and styles. Popular running brands have a wide variety in their collections, and so do some of the lesser-known brands. The iRunFar team researched over 100 shirts and tested several dozen top contenders so that we could put together a list of the best men’s running shirts on the market. These shirts accompanied our testers on long runs, short runs, hot days, cooler days, through the mountains, and on the trails to ensure that they were tested in a variety of conditions.
For more background information on the best men’s running shirts, see our tips on choosing the best shirts and frequently asked questions below the picks. You can also check out our methodology for this guide.
You can also check out our best running shirts for women guide.
Best Running Shirts for Men
- Overall Best Running Shirt for Men: Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee
- Overall Best Running Shirt for Men – Runner-Up: Lululemon Fast and Free Short-Sleeve Shirt
- Best Wool Running Shirt for Men: Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Merino Tee
- Best Hot Weather Running Shirt for Men: NNormal Men’s Race T-Shirt
- Best Cool Weather Running Shirt for Men: Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip
- Best Cold Weather Running Shirt for Men: Brooks Notch Thermal Hoodie 2.0
- Best Snap Running Shirt for Men: rabbit High Country SS
- Best Budget Running Shirt for Men: Under Armour Streaker Run Short Sleeve
Overall Best Running Shirt for Men: Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee ($70)
- Great breathability
- Versatile and comfortable in a variety of temperatures
- It can still pick up stink
We’re tempted to call the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee the Goldilocks of running shirts, but it’s more like the perfect chameleon of running shirts. We’ve been huge fans of Polartec’s Delta fabric since the fabric was first used in an Outdoor Research running shirt some years back. The material uses a combination of hydrophobic and hydrophilic fibers to move moisture from your skin to the air, and the highly three-dimensional honeycomb weave provides outstanding breathability and comfort across a wide range of temperatures. The material is also treated with an antimicrobial coating to help reduce smell.
On hot days, it wicks away moisture, is never clingy, and stays surprisingly cool despite feeling like it is made of a thicker fabric. On cold days, it’s a terrific extra layer to add warmth atop or under a long sleeve, and then it works fine as a single layer in merely cool temperatures if you warm up during your run. And on those perfect weather days, it’s the perfect tee. If you’re wearing a pack, you’ll appreciate that the flat-lock seams are moved off the top of the shoulder to reduce pressure and chafing.
All in all, the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee is a simple shirt that excels across a wide range of conditions.
Materials: Polartec Delta fabric, 47% recycled polyesterShop the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee
Overall Best Running Shirt for Men – Runner-Up: Lululemon Fast and Free Short-Sleeve Shirt ($78)
- Light and comfortable
- Loose fitting
- Higher price point
When you want a shirt that looks as good as it performs, the Lululemon Fast and Free Short-Sleeve Shirt is an exceptional choice. While many running shirts look too techy to be worn for a post-run coffee or beer, this one can also pass as a casual shirt. The 100% recycled polyester material is sweat-wicking, highly breathable, and light, and the material is treated with what the brand calls a No-Stink Zinc anti-odor coating, meaning that you can wear this shirt for multiple outings without it starting to smell. The coating helps prevent the growth of bacteria, the main cause of shirts getting stinky after a run. Indeed, we found the Breathe Light mesh fabric to resist odor better than other synthetic shirts. The slim fit is designed to skim the body. It’s not tight, but it’s also not baggy. Our tester found it to fit comfortably, quickly becoming one of his go-to shirts.
The seams are bonded to help prevent chafing, and the shoulder seam is set forward on the shoulder instead of straight on top to prevent pressure when you’re wearing a pack. Lululemon is known for making incredibly stylish clothing; this shirt is no exception. But they’ve also nailed the performance features with it. It stayed dry and comfortable in hot conditions, and we found the fit of it to be better than most other shirts.
While the price is relatively high for a short-sleeve shirt, it’s not much higher than that of many other technical tees.
Materials: 100% recycled polyester
Best Wool Running Shirt for Men: Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Merino Tee ($80)
- Very odor resistant
- Great fit
- The black color shows sweat stains
Many runners love wool for its anti-odor properties, and the Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Merino Tee takes advantage of the material’s performance features. This shirt is designed with input from Ultimate Direction Athlete Schlarb and has a great fit and appearance. The material is a blend of merino wool and Sonora fabric, a bio-based polyester fabric that stretches and has high durability. Merino wool is known for its wicking properties and stays dryer than many other technical fabrics, and Ultimate Direction uses responsibly sourced and cruelty-free wool for this shirt. Blended with the Sonora fabric, it makes a durable, stretchy material that can effectively transfer moisture from your skin to the air. It won’t pill even after many washes and stays looking good, even after a lot of use.
Certain areas of the shirt are made to be more breathable than others to assist with temperature and sweat control. The sleeves are quite long and provide ample protection from the sun, and the underarm gussets increase your arms’ range of motion. The seams are flat-locked, and we had no issues with chafing. This shirt only comes in one color, black, and has a simple and stylish design on the front. While the black does show sweat stains prominently, it doesn’t pick up a stink. We were able to wear this shirt multiple times without ever noticing an odor from it.
Materials: 50% merino wool, 50% Sonora fabric
Best Hot Weather Running Shirt for Men: NNormal Men’s Race T-Shirt ($60)
- Very breathable and sweat-wicking
- Great design and print
- Reasonable price
- Fits small
A product from a relatively new brand in the running world, the NNormal Men’s Race T-Shirt quickly became a favorite shirt for our testers for hot weather runs due to its incredible breathability. As with other products from NNormal, this shirt is made to be durable and as environmentally friendly as possible. It’s made of 90% recycled PES (a plastic) and 10% elastane and is a very light shirt ideally suited for runs when the mercury rises. The styling is simple, and the shirt is designed with a slim fit. The website recommends sizing up, and we have to agree. This shirt definitely runs small.
We loved the overall aesthetic of this shirt and the simple black and white lettering on both the front and back. NNormal is known for its commitment to environmental sustainability in its manufacturing processes and its desire to make lasting products. The design of this shirt is somewhat timeless, so you won’t feel the need to replace it with something new as running clothing trends change. The company is also part of the 1% for the Planet program, donating some of its profits to groups supporting environmental causes.
This isn’t just a great-looking shirt; it’s one that you can feel good about wearing.
Materials: 90% PES, 10% elastane
Best Cool Weather Running Shirt for Men: Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip ($95)
- It doesn’t pick up an odor
- Zipper useful for venting
- Higher price
The Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip is a shirt option that has been on the market for a long time and is loved by many. One tester has worn a previous version of this shirt for at least eight years, and with minimal changes over the years, the new version is just as worthy. This half-zip, lightweight, long-sleeve merino shirt is perfect for shoulder-season running and is a can’t-miss item in a runner’s closet. It’s adaptable during surprisingly warm afternoons with sleeves up and zipper down or as an essential base layer under a short-sleeve shirt and windbreaker when temperatures drop into the single digits. Wool is a much-loved material among runners for its odor-control properties and wicking ability, and Smartwool uses a merino wool and nylon blend to increase the durability of this shirt while still taking advantage of the performance properties of the wool fibers.
While the price is higher for a shirt, the high-quality fabric, and equally phenomenal construction could easily last a decade of heavy use. The flat-lock seams minimize the chance of chafing, and the shoulder seam is offset to minimize any pressure under pack straps on the shoulders.
Materials: 87% merino wool, 13% nylonShop the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip
Best Cold Weather Running Shirt for Men: Brooks Notch Thermal Hoodie 2.0 ($98)
- Zipper helps with ventilation
- Watch window
- It may be too warm for moderate climates
If you’re running regularly in colder weather, the Brooks Notch Thermal Hoodie 2.0 could be a critical component of your running wardrobe. It’s an ideal cold-day running shirt that one of our testers, who lives high in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, turns to for many runs in a row as his favorite shirt during the winter and shoulder-season months. The textured, midweight fabric is far more insulating than a standard running shirt, and when it’s paired with a windbreaker, it can keep a runner warm down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit with a moderate breeze. Pulling up the hood can provide another five to 10 degrees of apparent warmth when the sun goes behind the mountains or the wind picks up. If temperatures warm up, the lengthy half zip provides ample ventilation, and the sleeves can be pushed up, giving comfort up to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Even when temperatures warm, the fabric effectively wicks away sweat and never feels like a soggy mess.
This shirt has some details that make it stand out, including a watch window to check your pace or the time without rolling up your sleeves. This is especially nice when it’s cold out. An antimicrobial finish helps with the stink if you work up a sweat, and the hood rolls away when not in use.
Materials: 91% polyester, 9% spandexShop the Brooks Notch Thermal Hoodie 2.0
Best Snap Running Shirt for Men: rabbit High Country SS ($75)
- It can be worn both running and casually
- Button-down shirts aren’t everyone’s favorite
We love an excellent Western-style snap shirt; the rabbit High Country SS is an absolute favorite. Easy on, easy off, it is highly configurable with various snaps to be done or undone and a collar that you can flip up for extra sun protection. Over the years, we’ve logged plenty of miles with a Patagonia snap shirt developed for their trail running line but ultimately released in their fly fishing line. That shirt confirmed our suspicion that a technical snap shirt is an excellent option for trail running.
Launched in 2021, this shirt instantly caught our eye as a running snap shirt made with lightweight technical fabric consisting of 88% recycled polyester and 12% spandex, perfect for drying quickly. The perforated back panel helps with temperature control, and the whole shirt allows for a full range of motion. We have to admit, we really love the rabbit’s plaid in this shirt. And we appreciated the semi-relaxed fit that was equally at home on the trails as in the coffee shop afterward.
Materials: 88% recycled polyester, 12% spandexShop the rabbit High Country SS
Best Budget Running Shirt for Men: Under Armour Streaker Run Short Sleeve ($35)
- Reasonably priced
- Raglan sleeves minimize chafing under a pack
- Can pick up odor
The Under Armour Streaker Run Short Sleeve delivers a heck of a high-performance shirt for a very reasonable price. It feels cool in the heat, doesn’t cling, even in the rain, and feels soft and light on those perfectly delicious runs as the seasons change, all for $35. With nearly all the other shirts we tested costing no less than $45, with at least half a dozen costing $80 to $100, this shirt is quite the bargain.
Made of polyester and Elastarell, this shirt is quick-drying and breathable, and it feels very lightweight to wear. It also has several mesh panels to increase airflow on a hot day. This shirt comes in a variety of colors to suit any personal preference. Several reflective hits placed strategically around the shirt make it more visible in low-light conditions.
Materials: 93% polyester, 7% ElastarellShop the Under Armour Streaker Run Short Sleeve
How to Choose Running Shirts for Men
Determine Your Intended Use
When we started running, the prevailing wisdom suggested an excellent pair of sneakers and maybe a GPS watch was all we needed. But along the way, dedicated trail and ultrarunners realized the importance of quality gear and started looking for the best running shirts for men. When considering the purchase of a shirt for running, be mindful of your intended usage.
You may look at a double-digit mileage training day with a pack where durability is key. Or you may be heading out on a multi-day fastpacking adventure or fastest known time attempt where you probably won’t change your shirt but want to minimize the smell.
Alternatively, you might be looking at a shirt to change into after a workout for joining friends for a post-run beer or coffee. Every shirt prioritizes qualities such as durability, style, and comfort. Figure out what you’re specifically looking for in a shirt and go from there. And if you’re hesitant to spend a lot of money on a running shirt when you have a closet full of event t-shirts, you might still want to consider investing $35 in the Under Armour Streaker Run Short Sleeve for an upgraded running experience.
Pick Out a Style That Suits You
Even though you may be traversing through mud and dirt, it’s still important to feel good about how you look out on the trail. While North American trail runners may trend more toward utilitarian-casual than their European counterparts, who tend to prefer tighter form-fitting clothes, everyone wants flattering clothing in a color and design that makes you feel like you.
During an outing on the trails or within your running group, you could see everything from a tight-fitting tech shirt to a cotton tank top to a button-down shirt like the rabbit High Country SS — and more.
In the simplest terms, the best running shirts for men are the ones that make a person feel great, even if they’re not the most expensive or high-tech shirts available.
Don’t Forget Comfort and Fit
In addition to looking good, you want to feel good, and the two often go hand in hand. What works for one person might not work for another, so understand what fit, materials, and designs feel the best on your own body.
When choosing a shirt, prioritize the fit — after all, you will wear it for hours during your long runs. Think about your personal preference. Do you generally like loose-fitting tops that allow your skin to breathe? Or, perhaps you prefer a tight-fitting shirt that doesn’t flap around as you traverse a windy ridge. The Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Merino Tee provides a comfortable fit with more stretch than a pure wool shirt.
And it’s also important to consider the hydration pack you most regularly use and how a particular shirt will work with it. You certainly don’t want a shirt that will continually bunch up underneath it.
Be Choosy About the Fabric
Some people love wool, others love spandex, while some still, for some reason, stick with cotton — we see you! The fabric makeup of a shirt has a lot to do with the goals it’s looking to achieve: odor-control ability, washability, stretchiness, or straight-up comfort. Each fabric type has unique characteristics, and the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee, our choice for the best overall shirt, stood out for its high-performing fabric blend.
The merino wool of today is not your grandmother’s scratchy wool. Merino wool is a popular choice among runners, as it works well during runs in both hot and cold weather. Shirts made with merino wool are highly breathable, wick away sweat, and are lightweight. Merino wool is effective because it allows the runner to brave cooler temperatures. Its fibers have insulating properties that maintain body heat more effectively than cotton or other common fabrics. If you see yourself running in areas where the temperature rapidly changes, a shirt with merino wool could be a good solution for staying warm and cool. We loved the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip as a stand-alone layer and one for layering on cold-weather runs.
Conversely, cotton is known for trapping moisture. A sweaty shirt combined with heat and friction could very likely lead to chafing. Still, some runners opt for a cotton shirt. If you choose this direction, do so at your own peril — and be sure to lube up!
Another option is shirts made out of polyester. It is durable yet feels very light and breathable. Polyester can be a good option when running during summer days because it can block ultraviolet rays better than other materials. And you need not worry about getting caught in a rainstorm, as the polyester will keep you warm even when it gets wet.
Nylon is also a popular choice for runners. It wicks sweat efficiently, offers superior breathability, and its stretchy qualities give you the freedom to move.
Be Sure to Protect Your Shoulders
No one likes to chafe. Running long distances with a pack or vest over a shirt with less-than-optimally crafted seams can lead to painful shoulders — the last thing you want to think about when your feet already probably hurt! Look for shirts with flat-locked, taped, or raglan-sleeve seams, like the Under Armour Streaker Run Short Sleeve, to reduce chafing on your shoulders and other pack contact points.
Make Sure the Shirt Can Breathe
While people react to heat differently, your shirt needs to keep you cool regardless of the temperature, humidity, and heat index. A shirt’s breathability is directly linked to its material, venting, and wicking properties. If you want a more insulating shirt for cooler days, it should still be breathable to minimize sweat build-up. The material of the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee performed well in a wide range of temperatures because of its high level of breathability.
Keep the Stench Away
Many of us like to wash our running clothes after one use, but on a fastpacking adventure or road trip, that’s not always possible. For these situations, or for our sweatier friends, look for a shirt made of wool, like the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip. The Lululemon Fast and Free Short-Sleeve Shirt is treated with antimicrobial processes to reduce stink.
Consider Drying Time
Drying time comes into play on those longer endeavors or multi-day trips, breathability, and smell protection. If you can river-wash your shirt after a long day and need it to dry before nightfall, or you just want the sweat to evaporate sooner, look for a shirt with good wicking and quick-drying properties. Fabrics that dry rapidly include merino wool, polyester, and nylon. The material of the Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Merino Tee has a speedy drying time with its blend of merino and Sonora fabric.
Be Mindful of the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating
Protecting your skin from the sun is important during midday runs when the UV index is high, generally between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) determines how much of the sun’s harmful rays can get to your skin, the rating being the inverse of the fraction of the sun’s rays that can penetrate a fabric. Most normal shirts have a UPF of 15, transmitting only 1/15th of the UV rays that hit them, but some shirts have ratings up to 50, allowing only 1/50th (2%) of ultraviolet rays to make it to your skin.
When it comes to the top performer in heat, our best hot weather shirt is the NNormal Men’s Race T-Shirt.
A great way runners can express themselves is through their choice of clothing. When it comes to shirts, you can choose options that fit the exact look you seek. Do you want pockets on your shirt? A high neckline? A zipper? Eye-catching design? The sky’s the limit; if you want your shirt to be extra creative, go for it! The Rabbit High Country SS was the most unique shirt on our list and provided a level of style that makes it great for casual wear.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our testing process began with research. We examined the breadth of products on the market, from longtime favorites to the newest and most innovative products available. We closely considered nearly 100 short-sleeve running shirts before testing 30. We put these shirts through rigorous testing under a gamut of running conditions for over a year. Our testers, consisting of trail, road, and ultra runners took shirts out in as many conditions as possible, from the heat of the day to chilly mornings. We evaluated each shirt’s breathability, moisture-wicking properties, fit, material, odor control, and durability. We also considered the aesthetics of a shirt and whether we felt comfortable wearing it out for a cup of coffee after a run.
We then narrowed our selection down to the best running shirts for men in a variety of categories to help you determine what’s best for you. Our research can help you navigate the hundreds of options for a shirt and let you choose the best one for your specific needs and budget.
Please note that product models are routinely discontinued in the running world, while new ones frequently come to market. At the same time, we here at iRunFar often keep using our top picks in our daily running … they’re our top picks, after all! Sometimes, that continued use results in uncovering product failures. With all this — product discontinuations, product introductions, and product failures — in mind, we routinely update our buyer’s guides based on past and ongoing testing and research by our authors and editorial team. While these updates can appear to be us pushing the newest product, it’s anything but that. Most products will likely remain the same when we update any buyer’s guide. That matches our goal: to get you in the best gear you’ll use for a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Running Shirts for Men
Can I run in a cotton shirt?
It’s totally up to you, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Cotton is heavy, holds sweat and other moisture, and stretches out easily. Cotton can also cause chafing during longer runs. For the most comfortable run, leave the cotton shirts for the post-workout tavern gathering. A very reasonable monetary investment can get you the Under Armour Streaker Run Short Sleeve, a significant upgrade from your average cotton shirt.
What kind of material should I look for in a good running shirt?
It depends on what you want the shirt for, but in general, look for breathable, moisture-wicking, smell-reducing material and smooth against the skin for the most comfortable experience. As detailed in this article, merino wool covers many bases more effectively than other fabric types. The Polartec Delta fabric of the Ultimate Direction Nimbus Tee made it our favorite running shirt, as it is breathable, comfortable, and wicking.
Is wool a good choice for warm weather?
While it might feel a bit itchy against your skin to start, today’s merino wool is not like the wool sweaters of yore. Merino is thinner, softer, and naturally antimicrobial, so it can be a good option for warm days, as it dries quickly and reduces smell. Wool is also an excellent option for a run that will span a wide range of temperatures. A long-sleeve wool shirt like the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip can be comfortable on chilly runs that warm up.
Should I run in a short-sleeved shirt, tank top, or no shirt?
Much of choosing the best running shirts for men comes down to personal preference; for some, less is more. Some runners don’t experience much chafing while wearing a running vest or pack, so sleeves aren’t as important. You might be going out for a short run or in very hot weather and want to let your underarms breathe, so a tank top is a good option. If you don’t mind getting a tan — please wear sunscreen! — and desire ultimate breathability in warmer weather, go shirtless! If you’re looking for extra sun protection and it’s not too hot, consider a long-sleeve shirt like the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Base Layer 1/4 Zip.
What’s the best shirt for running in hot weather?
Choosing a shirt that will breathe and wick moisture well is extra important for hot weather runs. You’ll want a shirt that effectively moves sweat from your skin without getting soggy or uncomfortable. While our guide’s short-sleeve shirts performed admirably in warmer conditions, our testing found the NNormal Men’s Race T-Shirt to be the best option for staying comfortable when temperatures increased.
Call for Comments
- Have you tried any of the men’s running shirts included in this guide, and if so, what were your impressions?
- Is there a great shirt we haven’t included that people should know about?